Welfare Benefits and Eating Disorders
Looking after a child or young person with an eating disorder can mean you have to reduce your working hours or give up work completely. It can also result in additional expenditure it terms of travelling costs to appointments and extra heating. Some parents may be entitled to claim benefits to help support them during this stressful time. Benefits can be either means tested or non-mean tested.
- Disability Living Allowance (under 16)
- Personal Independence payment (over 16)
These benefits are awarded when an eating disorder has a major impact on the way that your child or young person lives their lives. To claim DLA you will need to show that your child has care needs over and above what would be expected for a child of their age.
You will need to show that they have to be supervised/encouraged to eat and that they have “watching over”needs, that is that you need to watch over them to ensure that they do not harm themselves or to check that they are not vomiting the food that they have eaten. You should include any other associated medical conditions that they have such as depression, laxative abuse, OCD or self harming. Supervision needs to be for a substantial part of the day.
The child or young person should have had their eating disorder for at least three months when you claim and it needs to be expected to last for at least nine months after claiming for PIP or 6 months for DLA claimants.
You will need to supply medical evidence to support a claim. For PIP, the young person will normally be required to attend a medical. For further information or to obtain a claim form contact 0345 712 3456
If your child or young person is awarded either the middle or higher rate of DLA or either rate of PIP for the Daily Living component, then you can claim Carer’s Allowance if you care for your child or young person at least 35 hours a week. To claim Carer’s Allowance you should not be earning more than £110 a week. It does not matter if your partner works.
Child Tax Credit/Working Tax Credit
If you are on a low income or your earnings are reduced, you may be able to claim tax credits based on your income. Normally the amount of tax credits is assessed on the income you earned in the previous tax year, so you may not be eligible straight away.
If you work more than 16 hours a week (loan parent) or 24 hours a week (couples) you may also be able to claim Working Tax Credits.
Contact the Tax Credits Helpline 0345 300 3900 or use the on line calculator (hmrc.gov.uk) to work out if you are eligible. If your child gets DLA you are entitled to extra element on Tax Credits know as the disability element.
You can claim Income Support as a carer provided that you or your partner are not working more than 16 hours per week. Any earnings will be taken into account.
You can also claim if you are not able to work and need to care for your child and will not need to show you are looking for work.
Housing Benefit and Council Tax Relief
If you are on a low income you may be able to get help with your rent or Council Tax. Contact your local Authority for further information.
If you are on qualifying benefit such as Job Seekers Allowance (income based), Employment and Support Allowance (income based), Universal Credit or Income Support you will get help with travel costs to essential medical appointments. Also if you get Child Tax Credit and are on a low income you will also get help.
You will need to apply on an HC1 form which can be obtained from www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk